Last week our family day included a trip to Trader Joe’s and Target. Adeline LOVES TJ’s because she gets her very own, little tiny, personal cart. After hitting up TJ’s for all the items we need to sustain us for a month we had to swing by Target for a few things. Now I might have forgotten to mention that Maisie had been running a fever the day before. And mother of the year here had kinda forgotten about it that morning and forged full steam ahead with her plan to take both kids (husband in tow of course) shopping. Well about 10 minutes before we finished up at Trader Joe’s, Maisie’s Tylenol began to wear off and remind Mama that indeed she had a sick baby with her. Oh and she had no Tylenol to give her. Its okay, we are headed to Target, we can get it there. So we did. But easy it was not.
Now the Target scene that I am about to describe is one every mother out there has endured in some form or another. After the 5 minutes it took me (with a screaming baby in my cart) to find the Tylenol, I headed to the bathroom with a three- year old who had to pee, an infant who had a fever and needed a diaper change, and of course a Mama with a full bladder. So I lay Maisie on the changing table to give her the Tylenol and change her diaper. She is screaming while Adeline is doing the pee-pee dance and pulling on my shirt, and then of course there is the obnoxiously loud hand dryer going off every 5 seconds, causing Adeline to scream and cover her ears. I think you call this utter chaos. And of course Maisie can’t just take the Tylenol and let me change her, she has to spit it out 3 times. By this point I am sweating and doing my own pee-pee dance. So I finish changing Maisie, and with one hand now get Adeline on to the potty (not before covering it in toilet paper of course), help her to pull up her pants and wash her hands, but of course not to use the hand-dryer — and then I hand them both off to Robert so I can finally provide relief for my own bladder.
I can’t help but think that maybe this scene depicts our busy lives as well. I mean when life gets too busy and we try to carry too many things, and we get overwhelmed. When we start to sweat. Or when we have more to do than hands to do it with – not to mention the lack of time we have to do it in. And let’s face it, often the many things we are juggling are time sensitive, much like the bladder of a three-year old or the fever of an infant, they must be dealt with ASAP. They are pressing in on us, taunting us, begging us for attention. I remember at one point amidst the Target chaos I had to stop, look up, exhale, and just say “ahhhhhhhh”. Are you kidding me with this? Is this really my life? haha! I mean now I can “lol” at this debacle of a scene, but I am pretty sure any tears being shed by my sleep-deprived self at that point were tears of frustration and exhaustion, definitely not of joy!
So I ponder this: how many times have I allowed my life to get to this point? How many times have I looked up and said “ahhhhhh” – I can’t do it all because I have too many things pulling me in too many directions, and I simply do not know where to begin. But wait, doesn’t this beg an even greater question? How do I allow myself to get to this point? Anyone else got the same question?
The simple answer is this: I take on what I want to take on for motives that are not always from God. I want to feel good. I want to look good (ouch that one even hurts to type). I want to please others. I want it to get done and no one else seems to be doing it, or doing it the right way at least. It seems like a good idea, even a “God” idea. Or even worse, I am avoiding doing the very thing God is asking me to do by cluttering my life with distraction (ugh, not too pretty).
So I ask myself how to avoid landing in this spot. How do I get out of this mess? Well, how did I get out of that Target bathroom alive? 1. I did one thing at a time after prioritizing. 2. I remembered that I am not on my own but actually do have the support of a wonderful husband and handed the girls over to him. (eek! I accepted help!) 3. I took a deep breath, looked up, and gave it up. In summary, I acknowledged that I cannot always do it on my own, and that often I am not even being asked to do so (but too often put the weight of it on myself anyway).
God relays this message to us constantly in Scripture. He did not create us to be busy-bodies that do it all, and do it all on our own. Remember this promise in the book of Joshua . . .
“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Or, wait, how about this one from Psalm 55?
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
Then there is this tiny little promise that Jesus makes to his disciples. No big deal. Nothing too important or anything. Remember it?
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Right here in these three verses we are reminded that God gives us courage and strength, offers to carry our burdens, and yes he promises us peace amidst it all. Something tells me if God can provide us with all this, he can handle the many items pulling us in a million directions. Or maybe even more so, he doesn’t want us taking on those items that pull us in a million directions without Him involved.
So the next time I have a toddler and an infant who are pulling me in three different directions, before I let them split me in half, let me remember that God has given me the strength and courage to accomplish all things HE lays before me, he offers to take my burdens and worries, and then he assures me that he can give me peace amidst the craziest of circumstances. So it might not necessarily be about taking on too many things, but instead about the way we take them on, the source of our strength to accomplish them all, and most importantly our reliance on God to get through them with a little grace.